Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Temptation and grace

“No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NRSV)

Chapter 10 of 1 Corinthians is about tests or temptations. Actually, much of the entire book of 1 Corinthians is about temptations. Temptations are different from trials and sufferings because when we face temptations, we have some control over our behavior. Temptations take our focus away from God. Trials and sufferings occur when we suffer consequences for actions or events beyond our control. For example, addiction to caffeine is a temptation, and terminal illness involves suffering.

God has never promised that we will not face temptations. Giving in to temptations can become a habit that can be difficult resist. An acquaintance of mine loves jewelry, and for years, she collected many beautiful pieces. However, when she had to make a choice between buying new tires for her car and a piece of jewelry, she chose the jewelry over the tires. She eventually found herself with a flat tire on a deserted road, no money to tow the car, and a beautiful ring on her finger. She decided to quit giving in to her temptation to buy jewelry, but each time she looked at any jewelry, she longed for it. After a long struggle, and many unsuccessful attempts to give up this fascination, she finally quit wearing jewelry and sold or gave away all of her pieces.

This seems like a harsh action to take for a rather innocuous habit, but the woman claims that she cannot look at jewelry without longing for it. She said that looking at jewelry takes her eyes away from God. This is the biggest danger that any temptation poses for us. It takes our eyes away from God.

Paul reminds us that God is faithful. The way to endure temptation is to take our eyes off of the temptation and look to Christ. God’s grace provides the path to lead us out of temptation’s way.